Farcical scenes in Tunisia-Mali Afcon match after referee twice blows final whistle before 90 minutes played

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Mali manager Mohamed Magassouba was in the middle of his post-match press conference when he was told his players needed to return to the pitch to play out at least three minutes of additional time.

“Unfortunately the opposition team did not want to come back out and the final whistle was blown,” he said.

Before the controversy at the end, the match itself was packed with incidents.

Mali had taken the lead when Ibrahima Kone scored from the penalty spot after Boubacar Kiki Kouyate’s shot had struck the hand of Tunisia midfielder Elyas Skhiri.

Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri then missed with a penalty of his own before Mali were reduced to 10 men when Sikazwe showed a harsh red card to El Bilal Toure for a late challenge.

Sikazwe was asked to check the pitchside monitor following a Var review, but stuck with his decision. Tunisia are understood to have filed a complaint with the Confederation of African Football following the match.

Seemingly no stranger to controversy, Sikazwe was provisionally suspended by Confederation of African Football in November 2018 following corruption allegations.The suspension was later lifted after CAF’s disciplinary board ruled in January 2019 that there was insufficient evidence to implicate his involvement.

There was further embarrassment as the wrong anthem was played three times for Mauritania ahead of their opening game against Gambia. Some players were seen shaking their heads as two unsuccessful attempts were made to play the anthem before kick-off.

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